You Are Beautiful, My Love

Do you know how beautiful you are in the eyes of the Lord of grace?

You Are Beautiful, My Love
Photo by Cássio Jardim / Unsplash

"Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful" (Songs 1:15).

Dear child of God, do you know how beautiful you are in the eyes of the Lord of grace? This is one of the biggest struggles in the Christian life. We assume the Lord is just like everybody else and think grace is mere tolerance. Hence we lose the excitement and joy of knowing the truly amazing grace of God, causing us to have dampened zeal for the Lord. It is thus crucial that we know the holy love of God for us to be wholly passionate for the Lord.

The Song of Songs is an inspired poem to awaken in us the wonders of this Holy Love. Through the fabric of the most intimate of all human relationships - marital love - the Holy Spirit ushers us into the wonders of God's intimate love for us in Christ. When it comes to instructing us in the experiential lessons of our relationship with our Bridegroom Lord, the Spirit of God deemed it wise to use poetry as His chosen vehicle. So we should read and interpret it as poetry, understanding the imagery as metaphorical and not literal, and grasping the intended effect of the imagery as one of awakening our affections more than just the illumining of our intellect.

In this section of chapter 1, we find the Shulamite is describing her lack of confidence before her Shepherd-King lover, Solomon. She finds herself dark due to exposure to the sun (Songs 1:6). In other words, she is suffering shame over her seeming unattractiveness. She can't take the staring glances of others as she feels her shame intensely. Many a time, we also feel the same that we are so unattractive due to all our darkness. Deep down our heart speaks: How could anyone especially the Lord love me so much? I must be a pretty ordinary, even inferior, member of His body. He must be merely tolerating me and loving me because of Christ.

Moreover, the Shulamite has been the victim of angry brothers who only cared for her service in their vineyards, but not her own vineyard (Songs 1:6). So in addition to internal shame, she is suffering external rejection. Her own family who ought to have cared for her sadly only used her for their own good. They had no genuine love for her. They were merely into a use-and-throw policy. Very often this is sadly our experience also in the family of God. The church is sadly more interested in our service to them than in meeting our own heart's condition, our own vineyard. People neglect our deepest needs and merely use us for their ends.

Just like the Shulamite, the Bride of Christ also suffers internal shame over her own failures and external rejection from merely religious folks who use her. In such a situation, the Shulamite desperately longs for the presence of her dear lover who seems distant to her. She wants to be where he truly shepherds his flock. For he alone will take good care of her. In fact, she is told by him to follow the path of the sheep and come to his pasture for true shepherding of her. When shame and rejection overwhelm us, we also long to be intimate with Jesus and experience the love of the true shepherd of our souls.

It is interesting when she finds him, how her lover begins his words to her. He begins by calling her "most beautiful of women" and "my darling" (Songs 1:8-9). For the Shulamite struggling with internal shame over her darkness, such a language would have been too good to be true. How is this dark woman the most beautiful of all women? How is this rejected and despised one the darling of the Shepherd-King? Here we have the paradox of grace. Though we are dark, we are lovely in His sight. That's the nature of His love. That's how amazing grace is.

Following in v.9-10, the lover gives her three affirmations of her beauty. First of all, he says she is like a mare from the chariots of Pharoah (Songs 1:9). It is well known that Solomon got all his horses from Egypt (2 Chr.1:16-17) because Pharaoh had the best-trained horses in the world. So in Solomon's eyes, his lover is like a strong, trained, yielded, and beautiful mare from the glorious courts of Pharoah. In the same manner, the Lord looks at us in Christ and says, we are beautiful in His eyes. Despite all our weaknesses and need for growth, we are still beautiful in His eyes. Objectively, we are free from all condemnation, adopted into the family of God, clothed in His righteousness, and indwelt by the Spirit of God. Moreover, subjectively, when we yield to His Spirit, say yes to His will, and take steps to obey Him, we are uniquely beautiful in His eyes and uniquely blessing His heart. Unique because each of us is a unique creation of God. His delight in each child of God is thus distinct and unique. Hence He says, you are a glorious and beautiful one in my eyes.

Secondly, the lover says her cheeks are lovely with ornaments (Songs 1:10). Her cheeks are inherently lovely, or attractive, and then they are adorned with ornaments. Not only for her internal strength and character, Solomon now praises her for her external beauty, especially that of her face. She looks so attractive to him. To understand the poetry here, we should keep in mind that cheeks are often a mirror of one's emotions. When they are red, it could speak of excitement, anger, joy, or when they are bedewed with tears, they could even speak of one's sadness. So the cheeks of the bride being beautiful means poetically, the Lord is saying He finds the affections of His bride as lovely and attractive. When we move towards the Lord with sincere devotion and passion, it excites the Lord as He finds it so lovely and attractive.  When we pour our hearts out to Him in prayer, He finds it so inviting to be part of our lives. When we adorn our desires with good deeds (Titus 2:10-14), it is like the bride's cheeks are adorned with ornaments.

Thirdly, Solomon praises the neck of the Shulamite which is adorned with jewels (Songs 1:10). Here again, to understand the poetry, we should keep in mind that the neck is often used in Scripture to signify our will (Isa. 48:4; 2 Chr. 36:13; Prov. 29:1; Acts 7:51). When someone is rebellious the Lord calls them stiffnecked. Neck thus speaks of our yielding to the yoke of His Lordship. The Lord looks at His bride and praises her neck – her willingness to be submissive to His yoke. Objectively, we are under His Lordship as He has bought us with His blood. But subjectively, we are yielded to His Lordship when we willingly choose to obey Him. When we make such choices, we are truly beautiful in His eyes.

So dear child of God, do you know you are individually dearly loved and prized by the Lord Jesus? You might think you are dark and rejected, but in His eyes, you are most beautiful and precious. You might think you are insignificant and inferior, but in His eyes, you are strong and powerful like a mare. You might think your affections are weak and shaky, but in His eyes, each one of them is attractive like the cheeks of a bride. You might think your will is forever stiff and unyielding, but in His eyes, your choices to obey Him are lovely like an adorned neck with jewels. Against all fears of internal shame and external rejection, do you hear your Heavenly Bridegroom calling you the most beautiful woman? He does – "Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful" (Songs 1:15). Amen.